Stats Browser Trends

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This discusses browser trends and resolution trends for designers who want to decide what to support.

Caution: browser stats are of limited use to designers. First, stats will vary from site to site, so it’s only the stats for your sites which matter. Se­cond, stats are skewed by many factors, so the true numbers may be higher or lower than the numbers reported. Third, and most important, browser stats are really only useful to designers when deciding which browsers are so little used that they need no longer be supported: it may be entertaining to know, for example, how well Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are competing with Internet Explorer, but so long as the numbers are large enough that the browsers must be sup­port­ed, exact numbers are irrelevant to the design.

Browser Trends 

This discusses trends in the usage of the major families of browsers. Important Note: different sites attract different types of visitors, so you should focus on the stats for each of your sites; the trends discussed below are general indicators only.

Summary

1% or more use each of the following: 1 Blink-based browsers (mainly Chrome, Edge:​Chrome, Opera, and Vivaldi); 2 Webkit browsers (mainly Safari). 3 Gecko-based browsers (mainly Firefox); and 4 Internet Explorer 11. Close to 1% use mobile browsers, mainly Opera and WebKit-based browsers.

Recommendation

A good way to ensure that sites will work for as many users as possible is to 1 design sites to the HTML, CSS, DOM, and other standards, avoiding “bleeding edge” features of the stan­dards, 2 to test sites with common browsers that implement the standards well, then 3 to test sites with other browsers and to tweak the code to make sites work well enough for an­tique browsers still in common use.

Older versions of Internet Explorer — chiefly IE 5 and 6 — cause the biggest problems. The prob­lems can typically be overcome by adding minor CSS code changes, often within IE conditional comments to ensure that the changes are visi­ble only to those versions which need them.

Details

As the Stats show, the number of people using a brow­ser depends a lot on the site. The numbers on this page are, at best, guesses of “typical” users: in any case, what matters most isn’t the exact numbers, but rather which browsers are used enough to be sup­port­ed. You should use the stats for your site, and re­mem­ber that, if your stats indicate that few people use a certain browser, it may be that your site may not be working well with that browser, so that potential users are going elsewhere, to similar sites which do support the browsers your site doesn’t.

Blink Browsers (Chrome, Edge:Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi, etc.)

⁓78% typically use Blink based brow­sers, mostly Chrome. The percentage of users is close to stable.

Most people use recent versions of the Chrome based browsers.

Webkit Browsers (Safari, etc.)

⁓10% typically use Webkit brow­sers. Use of the Webkit browsers is close to stable.

Gecko Browsers (Firefox, K- Meleon, Pale Moon, Sea­Mon­key, TOR, Waterfox, etc.)

⁓9% typically use Gecko brow­sers. Use of the Gecko browsers is close to stable.

Most people use recent versions of the Gecko browsers, but many also still use old versions with se­cu­ri­ty defects.

Microsoft Edge::HTML & Internet Explorer

1% use Edge:HTML or Internet Explorer, with the numbers dwindling as users switch (mainly) to Edge:Chrome.

Resolution Trends 

This discusses trends in the resolutions of browser displays.

Summary

Resolutions vary a great deal. Most users have 1024×768 or higher, but a large minority have less.

It is important to note that a the display resolution says little about the size of the browser window, and b users can normally resize the browser window. Consequently no particular browser window size should be assumed.

Recommendation

A good way to ensure that sites will work for as many resolutions as possible is to design sites to be resolution-independ­ent, i.e. not to specify font sizes in absolute units (e.g. pixels), and not to specify widths in absolute units unless a width is that of a fixed-width object, e.g. a GIF, JPG, or PNG image.

Mobile devices create a special challenge. CSS 3 media queries may be used to force the use of CSS files which make pages automatically adapt to devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs.

Many modern browsers have zoom features which may be used, among other things, to resize pages which are designed for specific resolutions, in order to fit the entire width of the page within the browser window. When, however, a browser resizes images, image quality suffers, and therefore the user experience suffers. This makes it all the more important not to design sites for specific resolutions.

Details

According to Net Applications’ Market Share, in Jul 2017 about 38% of users have resolutions of 1024×768 or more, 60% less than in 2010. The great difference is because, in 2017, about half of users were using smartphones or tablets, and many were using what must be deemed to be small laptops.

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